How To Travel With Your Pet
Whether traveling by plane, taking a long driving vacation or even moving to a new city, our most important family members of the furbearing variety are often a big part of the equation. We long to share our travel adventures with them, and leaving them behind during a move is simply out of the question. But sometimes those travels can be stressful and taxing for our pets. There are a few ways to prepare pets for travel and make it an easier, more enjoyable experience for both you and them.
There’s nothing worse than trying to cram a dog or cat into a kennel when they’ve never been in one before. Contrary to some opinions, there is nothing cruel or inhumane about training your pet to be in a kennel, as long as you don’t treat it like a prison or lock them in it for long periods of time. Dogs especially, being den animals, can come to see their kennel as their own safe haven and truly enjoy curling up in it to sleep or relax. Most kennels can be lined with soft cushioning. If you start when they are young, both cats and dogs can learn to be amenable to traveling in a kennel, which makes for a safe and less stressful travel experience overall.
Getting your pet used to new surroundings and different environments on a regular basis can help them feel more comfortable when traveling. Take your dog to a dog park where they can meet both other dogs and people, and make sure your cats are exposed to visitors in your home from an early age. General obedience training classes for dogs help with good behavior in any situation, and can make life easier not just for travel, but for everyday life as well.
Tire Them Out
The pet owner adage of a “tired dog is a happy dog” is definitely one that holds true for travel. On the day before or morning of a long trip, make sure you get your pet out for some serious exercise. Take your dog for a long walk or run, interact with your cat and get out those play toys. If you’re driving, make sure you take frequent rest stops where you can walk or run your pet. Exercising them until they are tired will hopefully have them doing more snoozing than stressing.
No Food Before Long Trips
If you’re getting ready to take your pet on a trip and know that they will be kenneled for a long period, you might think you need to load them up on food beforehand so they don’t get hungry. This can actually be detrimental to your pet. Stomach upset during travel isn’t uncommon for animals and they can end up vomiting in their kennel, which only contributes to their stress, not to mention creating a mess to clean up. Feed your pet about 4 hours before travel, but don’t put food in their kennel for the trip. They might get a little hungry but they will actually be more comfortable overall. Veterinarian approved treats or small meals may be given during longer trips. Always include water. Put a few cubes of ice in the bowl of their kennel. It will help them stay hydrated without spilling everywhere. Or have bottled water ready to give them during stops.
For some pets, all the preparedness in the world isn’t going to help the stress that travel brings. In these cases, it might be easier for all involved to give them something to calm them for the trip. Talk to your veterinarian about the issue, as there are several types of safe medications that can be prescribed for anxiety and stress. And with or without medication, always keep a familiar blanket or toy with your pet so he or she feels more comfortable during the trip.